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Sunday, May 24, 2020

COVID-19: Too Good to Throw Away

From Worldometer,  COVID-19 new deaths:

DAY           USA   WORLD  Brazil  India South Africa
May     13   1772      5314
            14    1715     5317
            15    1595     5072
            16    1218     4360
            17      865     3618
            18    1003     3445
            19    1552     4589
            20    1403     4685
            21    1418     4934         1188     150         30
            22    1293     5252           966     142         28
            23    1036     4183           965     142         10

Summary:  Good day for Humanity.

Sunday is my day to show some some faith, usually science over religion.  President Donald Trump did it again, contrary to even what his scientific advisors are saying, by announcing that he would override governors to open places of worship today.  I was wondering why his continued incompetence has been mostly tolerated by the masses.  Then today I saw that ONLY 17% of Americans trusted the Federal government BEFORE this COVID-19 Pandemic.  This New York Times article was entitled:

Will the Coronavirus Kill What’s Left of Americans’ Faith in Washington?

That's enough of this pandemic (incidentally, on Wednesday I will focus on the next pandemic:  global warming) for today.  Let me instead foist on you all those video clips and photos and stuff taking up too much space on my desktop, for they're too good to throw away:

Likewise, some photos and stuff:

#1 Songs of 1992 in six minutes.  What happened in 1992?

  • First confirmed detection of exoplanets.  If you recall, I spent the summer of 1976 at the Ames Research Center to do this, and did come up, with Charles Townes, a method that could have done this cheaper and much quicker.
  • President George H.W. Bush meets with President Boris Yeltsin and formally declare that the Cold War is over.
  • Maastricht Treaty signed, the European Union is founded.
  • Los Angeles riots involving Rodney King and Koreatown.
  • Falun Gong forms in China.
  • First World Oceans Day coinciding with the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Hurricane Iniki demolishes Kauai.
  • Bill Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot for President of the USA.  Would Bush have been re-elected if Perot did not run?
To close, a Musical Tribute to and from Hawaii's Class of 2020.


Saturday, May 23, 2020

COVID-19: Elton John and Wagyu

From Worldometer,  COVID-19 new deaths:

DAY           USA   WORLD  Brazil  India South Africa
May     13   1772      5314
            14    1715     5317
            15    1595     5072
            16    1218     4360
            17      865     3618
            18    1003     3445
            19    1552     4589
            20    1403     4685
            21    1418     4934         1188     150         30
            22    1293     5252           966     142         28

  • Looks like the World new death rate is increasing.
  • While Brazil, India and South Africa all dropped, the new death rate will most likely show increases in the weeks to come.  Remember that Brazil and South Africa are in the southern hemisphere, meaning that June will be equivalent to December.  Colder weather will spur infections.
  • It's now becoming obvious why Taiwan reacted so well.  They were directly linked through personnel and custom about what was really happening in Wuhan.  They took wise steps before other countries.
  • I've long wondered how Thailand, which was #2 to China in COVID-19 cases when I was there in February, now is #73.  I think this was because, after that first jump of cases, the hot weather controlled the virus.  April is their hottest month, and it is always too hot there anyway.
  • Warm weather seems to also be helping India.  So does cold weather hurt?  Cases/million population:
    • World:      680
    • USA:      4973
    • India:          91
    • Thailand:    44
    • Iceland:   5287
    • Sweden:  3251
    • Qatar:    14078
  • So why are the U.S. and Qatar (I've been's worse than Thailand) so high in cases/million?  While I'm tempted to say that President Donald Trump botched the whole thing, but another factor is the number of tests/million.:
    • USA:        42050
    • India:          1973
    • Thailand:    4701
    • Iceland:   170745
    • Sweden:    20798
    • Qatar:       62819
  • So the matter is more complicated due to a huge difference in testing/capita.  This is why I use new deaths rather than new cases to get a better gauge on what is happening.  While you got to wonder about how well Russia and some other sites are reporting this figure, here is a comparison of these countries in deaths/million:
    • World:             43.5
    • USA:             295
    • India:                 3
    • Thailand            0.8
    • Iceland             29
    • Sweden          389
    • Qatar                  7
  • So, low temperatures do induce more COVID-19 deaths, while high temperatures suppress them.  Should be good news leading into the summer months.  Remember, Sweden did not use quarantining as a country policy, and, of course, the USA keeps doing all the wrong things.  Go to Worldometer for all the above statistics.
Even in isolation, I go out of my way to make Friday night special.  I found one piece of Japanese Wagyu Beef, from Miyazaki, no less, so decided to splurge the final bit of luxury I had in my refrig.  After my now MWF 1.5 hours of exercising with the machines, I took a bath with a Martini, this one replacing Vermouth with Double Black Johnny Walker, in a 6:1 ratio, plus two jalapeno stuffed olives:

The sake was a Hakkaisan Tokubetsu Junmai, Mickey's Beer and one of my Stanford reds:

This 2011 Inman Family Pinot Noir earned a 92 rating and can today be purchased for $68.  Generally, a Burgundy wine does not age as well as Bordeauxes, but should still be okay up to 15 years.  On checking, I found that Nebbiolos age the best of all.  For some reason, my 9-year old wine looked  and tasted like it was only 2 or 3 years old.  And I opened this bottle a week ago.  The  final pour was as good as the first. 

At the end of the meal I thought about what I should watch on the telly with the remainder of this Pinot Noir.  A rock concert came to mind.  I settled on either the Rolling Stones or Elton John.  I've never seen the Stones in person, but I've already viewed most of their best performances.  Of all the coincidencies I saw Elton John in Honolulu in 2011, the year of that Pinot Noir.  

Rotten Tomatoes audiences gave The Million Dollar Piano a rating of 80%.  This 2 hours and 35 minutes long program selected the best of his two Las Vegas concerts held at The Colosseum Caesars Place in 2012, close enough to 2011.  He played all his hits, except for Candle in the Wind, his most popular, listed as #2 to Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

The Million Dollar Piano came from Yamaha and, apparently, did cost a million dollars.  But he has long been extravagant:

While it seems like a lot for a piano, Elton John is no stranger to balling out with his massive net worth. At his peak he was reportedly spending over $2 million a month on his lifestyle. He owns mansions in England, The United States, Italy and France. He has dozens of cars, and sold 20 at Christie's Auction, saying he's never got the chance to drive them. He is a huge art collector and is said to have one of the biggest photograph collections in the world. He is also loves flowers, so much so that he would always send fresh flowers to family and friends and was spending over $200,000 per month on flowers alone. He even once filled up a private jet with fresh flowers just for a flight.

The Blue Revolution began in 1991:

In 1991, I co-authored a presentation on the Blue Revolution by Hawaii Senator Richard Matsuura (left) to the The First Very Large Floating Structures Conference held in Honolulu.  

In 1992 Senator Dan Inouye (right) published in SEA TECHNOLOGY The American Blue Revolution.  During this period, Joseph Vadus and I co-chaired a workshop in Kona, where the participants came to a conclusion that a 100,000 square foot (one hectare) floating platform could be built for $500 million, half the cost of one B-2 bomber, with a target date of the Year 2000.

A countdown of the top 100 hits of 1991 from 100 to 1 in ten minutes.  I leave you with a photo from my lanai:


Friday, May 22, 2020

COVID-19: Anastasia Lin

From Worldometer,  COVID-19 new deaths:

DAY           USA   WORLD  Brazil  India South Africa
May     13   1772      5314
            14    1715     5317
            15    1595     5072
            16    1218     4360
            17      865     3618
            18    1003     3445
            19    1552     4589
            20    1403     4685
            21    1418     4934         1188     150         30

  • Not a particularly good day for humanity.
  • I have deleted those European countries, China and South Korea, but added Brazil, India and South Africa to speculate on future hotspots.
Here are some sobering statistics.  Of the 3711 passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess:

  • 19% tested positive for COVID-19
  • 58% had no symptoms when tested positive
  • 46% remained asymptomatic (this is the group that will innocently walk around and infect others)
  • 1.7% of those infected died (this is a very high percentage because the CDC just reported that only 0.4% of those contracting this coronavirus will die--further, related to the above, they say that 35% of cases are asymptomatic--I might further add that 0.1% of those who get the flu will die)...this probably shows that ships just don't have the capability or equipment to save serious cases
Another example of how contagious this coronavirus can be:

The CDC released a report this week highlighting the spread of the coronavirus at a rural church in Arkansas in March. Among 92 attendees, 35 developed confirmed cases of the virus and three died, according to the agency. Another 26 cases linked to the church took place in the surrounding community, the agency said, leading to one death.

Which nicely leads to President Donald Trump's one-minute press conference today:

Trump described churches, synagogues and mosques as "essential" institutions and said that if governors decline to reopen them this weekend he would "override" them.

First, he can't legally do this. Second, I guess it again links to November 3.  89% of Americans believe in God.  He hopes to squeeze out a few votes here.

But that was not all, for after he brusquely walked of, having Dr. Deborah Birx present a confusing and terrible slide presentation of how areas in the USA are coping with COVID-19.  It's almost like he wanted to have someone look worse than him.  It was embarrassing for someone like her to do this, for she is generally well-respected and has been reasonably scientific in an obsequious manner.

One reason why he did not take any questions is because his ego was again crushed, if that is possible, by a just released study in Lancet reporting:

People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded.

Let me end this list of pathetic, but again perilous, string of goobers by our imbecilic ruler with a 12-minute statement by Anastasia Lin.  Nothing to do with the above, but continuing my now and then foray into perceived reality.  You can take it as supportive of Trump condemning China...or replace China in that talk with Trump, and you get a new perspective of how terrible he might well be.

Anastasia, now 30, came to Toronto at the age of 13 with her mother from Hunan, China.  She was Miss World Canada in 2015, but was denied entrance into China for the Miss World pageant.  She is an actress with 20 films to her credit.  I urge you to click on that presentation.

I'm into 1990, a pivotal year for me.  That was 30 years ago.  The Billboard #1 hits for that year in 12.5 minutes.  For the year:
  • The USSR began to unravel, first with Poland.
  • The Leaning Tower of Pisa closed to the public because it was leaning too much.
  • Nelson Mandela released from prison in South Africa after 27 years behind bars.
  • Pale Blue Dot photograph, from Voyager 1 from 3.5 billion miles away.
  • Census announces population of USA:  248 million.  Today?  328 billion.
  • Jeanne Calment becomes the oldest person, and dies in 1997 at the age of 122, the oldest ever.
  • East and West Germany reunite.  Angela Merkel, the most powerful female on Earth, grew up in East Germany.  
  • The Berlin Wall torn down.
  • The Gulf War.
  • First ban of smoking in bars occurs in San Luis Obispo, California.  The first in the world.
  • First Pizza Hut in USSR and China.
  • USSR shifts to a market economy.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • First portable digital camera.
  • Akihito becomes the 125th emperor of Japan.
  • The World Wide Web is invented.
  • End of the Cold War.
  • Chunnel Tunnel connects UK and France 40 meters beneath the English Channel.  Amazingly enough, the UK and mainland Europe were connected by land 8,000 years ago.
Cyclone Amphan killed more than a hundred, 500,000 homes were lost, and 3 million were evacuated, causing $13 billion in damages.  Now toss in COVID-19 and expect a lot worse in India and Bangladesh.


Thursday, May 21, 2020

COVID-19: Martini

From Worldometer, I have adjusted this table to show how new deaths best determine the phase of COVID-19:

DAY     China   Italy   USA   Spain   Germany   S. Korea  WORLD

May     13         0    195    1772     184          123               1        5314
            14         0    262    1715     217            67               1        5317
            15         0    242    1595     138            73               0        5072
            16         0    153    1218     104            26               2        4360
            17         1    145      865       87            22               0        3618
            18         0      99    1003       59            74               1        3445
            19         0    162    1552       69            70               0        4589
            20         0    161    1403     110            77               0        4685

  • A mixed day for Humanity.
  • Brazil has jumped to #3 in total cases, with 21,472 new cases, next to the USA with 22,140.
  • The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) gave British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University, $1 billion for COVID-19 vaccine development, for which we will receive 400 million doses.  
    • Delivery will begin in September.  
    • In comparison, the UK government on Sunday only added $0.079 billion to the effort.
    • Human trials began in April using 1,000 volunteers.  Results will be available soon.
    • Next will be phase three with 30,000 participants.
    • BARDA also provided funds to French pharmaceuticals company Sanofi, working in partnership with UK's GlaxoSmithKline.
    • Moderna of the U.S. announced positive data from its phase one human trial, but vaccine experts were skeptical.
  • In reaction, the Dow Jones Industrials dropped around a hundred points.
Well, on to the standard martini, which is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive or lemon twist.  While H.L. Mencken (right) called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet," and E. B. White called it "the elixir of quietude," and it doesn't matter if you don't know what a sonnet (perhaps 10% of you, at most, might have an inkling there are 14 lines) is, nor the definition of quietude, for I disagree.  All this is similar to the cafeteria food foisted on me by 15 Craigside.  Maybe it's because the meals we have here are already perfect, but I feel compelled to enhance it.

The popular theory is that something called the Martinez was served in the early 1860's at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco.  More accurately, you need to step back to the town of Martinez where it was really created.  The ingredients were one ounce of Old Tom Gin, 2 ounces of sweet Italian Vermouth, 1 dash of Boker's bitters, 2 dashes of Maraschino (I guess this must be the juice and not the cherry), 2 lumps of ice, shaken thoroughly and strained into a large cocktail glass with a slice of lemon.  If the guest preferred something sweeter, then two dashes of gum syrup were added.  Note that the vermouth was sweet and the process called for shaking.  Sweet drinks were popular in those days.

The first dry Martini is said to be the Marguerite Cocktail concocted in 1904 and later served by the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City.  This was two parts Plymouth dry gin and one part dry vermouth, with a dash of orange bitters.

Then around a century ago, in 1922, the Martini reached a kind of pinnacle:  two parts London dry (other kinds are sloe, with botanicals...but not really gin, as such) gin and one part dry (there are sweet ones, so you can have Manhattans and Negronis) white vermouth, stirred (So James Bond, who operates out of London, does not know what he is doing--actually, Ian Fleming's books called for stirring, but those films changed it to shaking. Want to know why shaking is preferred?  Somerset Maugham has been quoted to say that "so the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another.") in a mixing container with ice cubes, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass.  Already, signs of tampering began to creep in, for in those days, you could add orange or aromatic bitters.

But in the USA came the 18th Amendment, Prohibition, from 1920 to 1933, which ruined the Martini.  Did you know that the laws did not prohibit drinking alcohol?  Only manufacturing and transporting intoxicating liquors were illegal.  Some states never enforced the Federal law and drug stores continued to sell certain "medicines."  Unfortunately, bootleggers produced "bathtub gin," which not only had a foul taste, but sometimes contained methanol, causing death and blindness.  It is said that 10,000 people died, until the Twenty-first Amendment, sparked by the Great Depression, repealed this law.

Into the present, the the ratio increased to 3:1 (gin:vermouth) in the 1930's, then 4:1 in the 1940's.  Then all the way up to 15:1, called the Montgomery, not because British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery drank it, but because he only attacked when he had at least a 50:1 superiority.  Martinis today call for only a splash, meaning at least 16:1, but up to 100:1.

The Martini became shunned most of the past half century in favor of intricate cocktails, spritzers and wine.  Came drinks like appletini, with vodka and apple juice, and a range of -tinis.  Vodka, then began to replace gin in a standard Martini, partly because this could not be smelled when you returned from a three-martini lunch.

So if you are a traditionalist, today you must be specific about calling for gin, mentioning how much dry vermouth.  Say splash, indicate how many large olives (although marinated onions have entered the scene) or a sliver of lemon rind, and exactly how to work in the ice into an Old Fashion glass (left).  As I hate to waste all that alcohol, I have them pour the ice and mixture into that glass.

You can add some brine from the olive bottle and call it a Dirty Martini.  There is, the, yikes, Perfect Martini, which uses equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, over rocks (also known as ice).  When out, I accept the Old Fashioned glass (left), but at home I use a Bodum Pavina double-wall insulated glass to minimize ice melting and maximize holding comfort.

My first martini was a disaster.  My wife had invited a nursing school friend over for a drink.  Knowing that Joyce abandoned nursing to become a PanAm stewardess, and therefore, was sophisticated about drinking alcohol, I guessed that she might want a Martini.  I had gin, but purchased some Vermouth.  However, not knowing any better, I got red Vermouth.  She must have  been surprised, but said nothing.  Today I would flippantly respond if questioned:  Oh, I thought you said a Perfect Martini.  Here is Joyce today with her husband David.  We're dining at Vintage Cave Cafe.

I stopped using Vermouth half a century ago.  This "wine" starts with almost any cheap grade, to which are added botanicals, alcohol and sometimes coloring.  It is an aperitif.  The sweet red originally came from Italy, while the dry white first appeared in France.  If you buy one small bottle, you'll never use it up, for it tastes awful.  I now substitute with cognac, which is distilled wine, and scotch, separately.  My thinking is that if I like scotch, why not?  It's better to use cheap gin, cognac and scotch, for you can't truly appreciate the value of a mixture.

By the way, have you tried to mix equal parts of scotch, bourbon, vodka, tequila and gin?  Tastes very close to water.  This is why Long Island iced tea tastes like ice tea, for the ingredients are vodka, tequila, light run, gin, triple sec and lemon juice, with a bit of cola.

One of my latest Martinis used both vodka and gin, with both capers and olives.  The best one is stuffed with Jalapeno pepper.

Here are some other variations:

The following were sent to me by a female:

If asked, which is the largest food chain in the world, most would say Macdonald's.  Not so.  Watch this informative clip.

I'm now progressing into 1989.  This is around the time the Blue Revolution was beginning to solidify in my mind.  I was called into a meeting in Senator Dan Inouye's Honolulu office, chaired by Phylis Minn to help her determine what were the true priorities in Hawaii.  There were twenty people around a large conference table.  The Big Five was well-represented, so were military-industrial complex leaders.  Hawaiian Electric had three people, and I was only one of four from the University of Hawaii.

Early in the discussion, it became clear that the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute and Pacific International Center for High Technology Research were just about in last place for funding.  There was no way we could compete with them.  As I had a good relationship with Phylis, I found a way to scuttle the planning process.  If I had missed that meeting, there would have been no funds for the PICHTR OTEC and Bio-Methanol projects, which ultimately added up to $50 million, just for those projects.  The Blue Revolution would have been just a thought today.  It still is, but the foundation is a lot stronger.

The Billboard #1 hits of 1989, in ten minutes.  For the year:
  • The Soviet Union abandons Afghanistan.
  • Union Carbide paid $470 million to India for damages related to the 1984 Bhopal disaster that killed 3,700.
  • Salman Rushdie gets a fatwa for writing The Satanic Verses, and Iran placed a $3 million bounty on his head.  I was especially kind to Muslims in my books.
  • United 811 leaving Honolulu suffers uncontrolled decompression, where nine passengers were sucked out of the plane.
  • Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann announce cold fusion.  The concept got derided, but I still think there is something here worthy of focus.
  • Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.
  • Students protest in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.  That student, only known as "Tankman," never was identified.  There is no official word about what happened to him.  Time selected this photo as The Most Influential Image of All Time.
  • Motorola introduces the smallest mobile phone then and would cost $6000 today.
  • First attempt at genetic modification of humans.
  • First McDonald's in the USSR.
  • San Francisco earthquake that killed 63 and postponed the World Series.  I missed that earthquake by a few hours.
  • The U.S. invades Panama.
  • The Japan Nikkei reached an all time high of 38,957.  Today?  20,552.  38,957 today is worth 80,200 then, so you know the Japanese economy is a shadow of what it was 30 years ago.
Cyclone Amphan thus far has a death toll of 84, which will increase, after rolling over Kolkata into Bangladesh.  14 million are without power.